You Can Rent Me, but I’m Not for Sale!

I am a full-time missionary and have been for seven years. I work for Steiger International, an organization dedicated to reaching young people outside the church, and helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Working in music and the arts, I interact mostly with twenty-somethings. And although stepping into full-time ministry holds its challenges for everyone, I’ve noticed some unique barriers that the millennial generation is facing. I have found that for this demographic, the chasm between inspiration and action tends to be perilous and sadly, few manage to successfully navigate it.

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is the Director of Come&Live! and is the younger son of David and Jodi Pierce. Come&Live!’s vision is to create a worldwide mission community that will provoke and inspire Christian artists to use their God-given creativity to revolutionize the world for Jesus.
Instagram: @nzbenpierce
Twitter: @benalanpierce

Website: www.steiger.org/benpierce


My heart in writing this is not to add to the millennial bashing that seems in vogue - after all, I am (just barely) part of this generation myself. I rather hope to shed light on some of the struggles, and encourage young followers of Jesus that it is possible to overcome them.

As with so many things in life, awareness is the first step to correction; if you aren't aware of it, you can't fix it.

What follows is part one of a blog series devoted to what I see as the main obstacles to millennials becoming effective, full-time missionaries.

Living in the moment is an anthem for young people today. This mentality produces a suspicion of committing to anything that leads too far into the future. Instead, twenty somethings see life as a series of short adventures, not needing to connect the dots or head in any particular direction.

In the Christian world, we call these intervals “seasons.” While it is relatively easy to get a millennial to sign up for a volunteer position or a short-term trip, it always seems to come with the subconscious assumption that this season will be brief - perhaps six months, rarely more. At its conclusion, whether spoken or assumed, millennials will feel entitled to re-evaluate their position, and will likely step into something entirely different.

I have come across many young Christians who hop from one experience to the next, often doing so well into their twenties.

In my experience, it is very unusual to find a young Christian who is inspired by a cause, considers the cost, and then commits to it indefinitely. In fact, the very word indefinitely seems to induce a gag reflex in those born in the mid 80’s or later.

Sadly, many millennials view missions like casual dating, rather than marriage: something fun, experientially fulfilling, but not requiring significant commitment. Not surprisingly, this perspective is of little value to the often underfunded and understaffed ministries that are desperately trying to meet a particular need.

A noncommittal millennial gains little from short-term involvement that is not sustained long enough to yield fruit in both their personal lives and the task they are working to accomplish. The result is ministries that find themselves in a never-ending recruiting cycle, often wasting considerable resources and energy.

To clarify, not everyone in ministry needs to be full time to contribute in a valuable way, nor does this describe every young person today. The ministry I am involved in is sustained, in large part, due to our army of volunteers, many of them in the early twenties. And yet the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few (Matthew 9:37), leading me to believe that while not all, certainly more millennials are called to go all in.

Yet today, it's all about short-term and season to season. Long gone are the old-school days of missionaries packing their belongings in a coffin and boarding a boat, knowing that their work would end only when their lives did. That’s pretty hardcore, but if I have learned anything in ministry and life, it’s that half-measures accomplish nothing. We understand this in sports, in relationships, and even in secular vocations, so why not in ministry?

Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). I think if we are honest with ourselves, our reluctance to commit to something has less to do with compatibility or calling, and more the secular mindset. There is nothing more revered in our time than personal autonomy. We are told all day long that life is about fulfilling our desires and controlling our destiny. Giving our lives to anything, or anyone other than ourselves, is antithetical to the spirit of our age.

We have to recognize this pattern of our day, and actively fight it. We should not be surprised when our enemy perverts the truth, attempting to convince us to buy into a mentality that promises freedom but delivers an unfruitful life.

The truth is, someone who spends their whole life avoiding commitment will wake up one day no longer young, having accomplished nothing of significance, and filled with regret.

By contrast, the young follower of Jesus who gives everything - not for a season, but completely and without an exit strategy - will experience the incredible providential power of a God whose desire is to strongly support those whose hearts are fully His (2 Chronicles 16:9).

It is only then that they will make an eternal difference in a world that desperately needs it.

Related items

  • Episode 168: That’s Great That God Changes People over There, but That Won’t Work Here!

    Does God work the same all over the world? Will people respond to the Gospel in the USA the same way they do in Russia?

    Ben and David talk about this reaction they seem to see all over the world where people think that preaching the Gospel works in other countries but won’t work in their own. They debunk this lie and look at why it seems that so many followers of Jesus around the world have turned away from just preaching the simple Gospel.

  • Episode 167: Raising Kids That Will Want to Follow Jesus.

    Are we raising our kids to believe something that is just a set of good habits and morals or are we showing them what it truly means to have a relationship with God?
    David shares his experience in raising two kids as a missionary and some of the important steps he took so that they would see what it really means to follow Jesus. 

  • Episode 166: Hell, Overseas Missions, F-Bombs, and Other Related Topics.

    In this bonus episode of the Provoke&Inspire podcast Ben and David answer questions sent in from our community. They look at what makes overseas missions unique and why it’s important, discuss the use of vulgar language and the importance of having a healthy revelation of hell.

  • Episode 165: We Need Broken Hearts More Than Clever Words!

    In this episode of the podcast, Luke returns and joins David and Ben as they dig into the topic of relevance.

    Due to high demand the guys take another look at the idea of how should followers of Jesus should respond to divisive issues in culture today.

    They ask, how can a Christian be equipped to engage and challenge secular culture without losing their heart for people and focus on the Cross?

  • Episode 164: Taylor Swift Thinks We're Bigots. Is She Right?

    In this unplanned episode of the podcast David and Ben discuss Taylor Swift’s new single “You Should Calm Down” and its scathing attack on the abuse of LGBT community at hands of Christians.

    The guys wrestle with how followers of Jesus can meaningfully engage with a culture that views us as bigots, intolerant, and homophobic. They ask, in what ways is Taylor Swift right, and how can we do a better job of proactively demonstrating the love and character of God to an increasingly hostile world.

    You won’t want to miss this important discussion!

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